By: Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN, Director of Sports & Wellness
Instead of plunging into the usual hustle and bustle that typifies the
holiday season, why not start a new tradition this year? Focus on self-care
and your own well-being.
A self-care plan can reduce stress, anxiety and depression while boosting
your energy, mood and physical health. It might also help alleviate some
of the guilt that routinely sets in around January 2 when you get on the
scales or receive the credit card bill.
Here are 10 suggestions for a holiday self-care and wellness regimen:
Pamper yourself. After two years of pandemic worries and disruptions, everyone—men
and women alike—deserves pampering. If you can, book an hour or
day at a spa for massages, facials, manis and pedis, reflexology and detoxifying
body wraps. Or keep it simple with a candle-lit, soothing bubble bath
at home. Just take a some time to relax.
2.Exercise regularly. The advantages of exercising at any age outweigh any excuses for not.
Exercise lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, reduces risk of
stroke and helps weight loss. Few remedies compare to a walking meditation
for clearing your mind. If you already have a regular routine, add something
new during the holidays—yoga, Pilates, kayaking or hiking.
Get some sleep. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 7-8 hours of sleep
each night for adults. To aid your sleep ritual:
- Maintain a comfortable sleeping environment with no distracting lights
and noises; keep the room temperature around 68–70 degrees
- Turn off all devices, change into pajamas and brush your teeth at least
30 minutes to an hour before bedtime
- Wind down by reading a book or listening to a meditation
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule; try going to bed and waking up at the
same time each day, even on weekends
- Avoid exercising for 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid large meals, alcohol and caffeine late at night
Wisely portion food and drink. This may be the most difficult self-care tip to follow since holiday cheer
is usually used as an excuse to overindulge. The best way to stay true
to the best you is limiting your consumption of pleasure foods, especially
sweets, and drinks. Try taking just three to five “polite”
bites and sips.
While it's commonly believed that Americans gain an average five-to-eight
pounds from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, NIH studies show
the average holiday weight gain to be only about one pound.
However, any amount of weight loss can be challenging, especially after
age 50. As weight increases, so do health conditions that can affect your
stamina, mobility and overall wellness.
Stay positive. Stop worrying. Difficult as it may be to accept, there's only so much
you can control. But, you can control how you welcome the day and bid
good night. Despite all that may be going on, concentrate on positive
thoughts when you first awake and reflect on the things you're grateful
for at the end of the day. Stay in the Zen zone on nature walks, by journaling
or listening to music that makes you feel good. Schedule time with friends
and or just play on your own. Gaze up at the night sky.
Clear away clutter. While it may seem like work, set aside time at the start of the holiday
season to organize your closets, the garage or kids' rooms. Clutter
tends to induce anxiety. If the task at hand seems overwhelming, start
in a small space where your efforts will show big results. You will feel
you have accomplished a lot and may be motivated to do more.
Make a plan. Set aside specific days for decorating, shopping, baking, visiting friends
and other activities. Plan menus and shopping lists ahead of time to avoid
last-minute runs to the grocery store. Enlist help for party prep, clean-up
duties, gift wrapping and other holiday commitments. Don’t be afraid
to say no to requests that don’t fit your planned schedule.
Set a budget. To prevent stress over money, plan ahead and review your finances. Set
a realistic budget for gifts that doesn't impact your ability to pay
bills nor result in excessive credit card debt. Then stick to the budget.
Instead of over extending on gift giving, donate to charities in honor
of family and friends.
Seek professional help if needed. Despite best efforts, during the holidays you may find yourself feeling
sad or anxious, suffering physical ailments, unable to sleep, or irritable
and moody. If you're having a difficult time, speak with your doctor
or a mental health professional. They can help you with coping skills
to get through the holiday season with a bit of cheer.
Stay vigilant and vaccinate. Masking mandates may have ended, but COVID-19 remains with us. The best
way to protect yourself and your loved ones during the holidays is by
staying up to date on vaccinations. The CDC recommends updated (bivalent)
boosters for everyone 5 years and older.
For more information on health and wellness services, contact Thibodaux
Regional Wellness Education Center, 985.493.4765.